Four by four: Four Jewish things that happened on the 4th of July

From the heroic 1976 Operation Entebbe back to the 1187 battle that claimed the Holy Land for Saladin – American independence is not the only monumental event that happened today.

July 4, 2019 19:50
2 minute read.

Then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (C) and then-defense minister Shimon Peres (2nd L) greet hostages rescued from Entebbe back in Israel. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE/URI HERTZL TZHIK/IDF ARCHIV)


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July 4th is a famous date in world history due to the 1776 proclamation of American independence from British rule. But four Jewish events that rocked the world also happened on that date.

1187: Battle of Hattin places Muslim ruler Saladin in control of the Holy Land – This significant battle led to the collapse of the Christian crusader kingdom when the forces of Guy of Lusignan collapsed upon being faced by those of Saladin. Guy himself was captured and brought in front of the Muslim ruler, who did not slay him, saying that a king does not kill a king. Guy was the king of Jerusalem at the time. 

The battle of Hattin is still reenacted today in Israel by lovers of Live Action Role Play [LARP] and is seen as a key moment in the history of the region. 

1934: Nuclear chain-reaction patented by Jewish-American physicist Leo Szilard – Noted in the annals of history and warfare as one of the fathers of the atomic bomb, Hungarian-born Jewish-American physicist Leo Szilard conceived the nuclear chain reaction and patented the nuclear reactor with Italian-American Enrico Fermi.

Keenly aware of the destructive power of the weapon he helped create, Szilard wrote a short story in which he described being taken to court as a war criminal by the USSR should the US lose a war against it. He also participated in the first cloning of a human cell.

1946: Kielce pogrom in Poland influences Jews to leave the socialist country – In one of the few cases of blood liable in Europe after the end of the Holocaust, 42 Jews are murdered by Poles when an eight-year-old Catholic boy claims to have been held against his will by Jews.

The murder of so many Jews, many of them survivors of the death camps and the horrors of Nazi occupied Poland, led the remaining 121 Jews of Kielce to depart the town and go to Lodz in a protected transport arranged by the Red Cross. That event, along with the 1945 Krakow pogrom, led to the disillusionment of many surviving Polish Jews that they could rebuild their life in Poland and to their emigration from that country.

1976: IDF goes to the ends of the earth to save Jews in Operation Entebbe – 105 Jewish and Israeli passengers were kidnapped by Palestinian and German terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Baader-Meinhof terrorist group and taken to Uganda in an Air France flight. In a bold military operation, the IDF sent Special Forces to save the hostages in a hostile country far from the Jewish state. 

The daring feat was an astounding success even though three hostages were killed, as well as commander of the operation Yonatan Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

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